New York Giants: richie incognito

So last week, the New York Giants signed offensive lineman John Jerry, who was one of the three Miami Dolphins players implicated by name in the Ted Wells investigation into the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying scandal. Jerry, Incognito and Mike Pouncey were found to have "engaged in a pattern of harassment" toward Martin and others in the organization. Sexually explicit taunts about one guy's sister, racial taunts toward a team trainer of Asian heritage ... real charming stuff. Guy seems like a real winner.

This is the kind of signing that, if the Jets or the Raiders or the Bengals or the Cowboys made it, would be panned and ridiculed and back-paged all over town. But because everybody connected with the NFL thinks the sun shines out of the Giants' rear ends, the focus in this case is on whether Jerry will be eligible to play when the 2014 season starts.

So, on that: Maybe. Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked Monday at the owners meetings whether Jerry, Incognito and Pouncey would face league discipline for their roles in the Miami fiasco, and he didn't say yes or no. But his answer did indicate the possibility that Jerry might have to miss time while he undergoes a medical evaluation stemming from his apparent struggles to treat people like human beings.

Per Jordan Raanan:
"Our focus right now, at least in the case of the three players, is that they would be evaluated," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We talked with the union several times about that. We agreed that was the right first step."

The next step would be to determine if the players needed treatment of any kind. That could keep Jerry away from his new team for an unknown period of time, depending on the results of the tests.

Jerry is expected to be a reserve lineman at this point. The Giants, however, have several huge question marks on their line.

"The first thing is to get the evaluation to determine what the treatment is," Goodell said. "Depending on what the doctors prescribe there, that could prevent them from being part of football for some period of time. But that is a medical decision."

So, no way to know. All I can say is that the Giants must really like this guy if they're willing to take on this kind of baggage and the possibility that he might not even be medically cleared to participate in their training camp right away. When you have an offensive line play the way theirs did in 2013, I guess you're willing to overlook a lot in an effort to get better.
The New York Giants don't like to build their team through free agency, so the fact that they have signed 19 free agents in the past two weeks indicates they have felt they had little choice. Theirs was a roster in such an extensive state of disrepair that they had to go out and apply as many free-agent band-aids as possible. No way the draft was going to fix all of their immediate needs. No one has enough picks for that.

The signing Friday of John Jerry, one of the former Dolphins offensive linemen who was implicated in the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal last month, is an indication of just how difficult things get when you have to be as active in free agency as the Giants have.

Time was, the Giants would have steered way clear of anyone involved in what happened in Miami because they don't need the issues that could arise from inviting potential discord into their locker room, and they had other options for filling whatever hole they were trying to fill. But right now, with cap space dwindling and significant needs still looming with the pass rush and passing offense, the Giants are on the lookout for bargains. And in large part because of what happened last year in Miami, Jerry comes at a bargain price.

Our man Adam Caplan reports that Jerry's deal is for one year and $770,000, with only $25,000 guaranteed. That makes this a no-risk signing for the Giants from a financial standpoint. He'll come in and compete for a roster spot with guys like James Brewer and Brandon Mosley, and if he makes it he could be a useful backup at several positions or even a potential starter if Chris Snee can't answer the bell. Jerry is 27, turning 28 this summer like almost every other free agent they've signed, so he fits the age profile to which they have tried very hard to adhere. (The only player they've signed who is over 30 is kicker Josh Brown.) There are reasons the Giants can convince themselves Jerry makes sense for them, but if he had cost any more to sign than he did, they likely couldn't have brought him in.

This is a tough game the Giants are playing, and it's one in which they are justifiably uncomfortable. There is no way to sign 19 or more free agents and expect them to all work out for you. At best, they are going to end up hitting on maybe half of these signings and have to address the holes left over from the misses again a year from now. Free agency is an imperfect science, fraught with imperfect solutions to larger problems. That is the state of the Giants right now, and the fact that they had to go out and sign someone like Jerry from the pool of backup guards because the Raiders signed Kevin Boothe illustrates it as well as anything yet has.

Big Blue Morning: Oh, Antrel

November, 6, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants.

The news of the day: Antrel Rolle went on his weekly radio show and said he thought Jonathan Martin was just as much to blame as Richie Incognito for the Dolphins' harassment case. And while I guess you can admire Rolle for confidently expressing and sticking to his opinion, I go the other way. Part of the problem that created the mess in Miami is an NFL locker room culture of player groupthink that condones hazing and allows this kind of behavior to go on at all. Part of Rolle's issue with Martin is that he's a "grown man" and should at some point have stood up for himself. I just think this discussion is off the rails of reality if Rolle is really telling someone to act like a grown man in defense of behavior that's completely childish. Additionally, Martin is a clear victim in this case, and blaming the victim is cowardly... Your time is better spent listening to Tom Coughlin's very good interview on ESPN Radio in New York, in which he discusses how he's managed the team through its tough start and what he's doing to try to convince them they're still in the hunt.

Behind enemy lines: If there's to be a landing spot for Nnamdi Asomugha, who was cut by the 49ers this week, the one that makes the most sense is likely the Raiders. Asomugha's former team, with which he rose to stardom and free-agent riches, is in need of some help with rookie D.J. Hayden struggling at cornerback. Worth watching, at least. Not likely to matter to the Giants this week, but interesting nonetheless.

Around the division: The Redskins, as many of you appear to be well aware, were 3-6 last season and won their last seven to come back and claim the NFC East title. They are 3-5 heading into a short-week Thursday game and hoping to position themselves better this year for a second-half run that would come with greater margin for error. It's nice to know you can run the table, but it's also nice to know you don't have to.

Around the league: When the Power Rankings come out every week, Mike Sando, Jamison Hensley and I host a live video chat where we take viewer questions and debate some things about the Power Rankings. This is a link to the replay of this week's chat. I hope you enjoy it. Mike's the only one who didn't put the unbeaten Chiefs No. 1, and he has a detailed explanation.
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants

The news of the day: A lot went on Monday during the Giants' first day back at work after their bye week. The team announced that running back David Wilson's herniated disk was improving but that he still wasn't cleared to resume football activities. Wilson's going to get his neck looked at again in a few weeks, and they haven't put him on season-ending injured reserve yet, but that certainly remains a possibility. ... We spoke with Prince Amukamara about his own experiences with hazing in light of the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito story. Amukamara had a lot to say about the concepts of hazing and bullying in general and the key differences between his case and Martin's. ... Newsday spoke with Giants kicker Josh Brown, who knows Incognito and isn't surprised by his behavior. ... And yes, the Giants did some scoreboard-watching Sunday, and were disappointed with the results of the NFC East games.

Behind enemy lines: Of the two significant offensive players who left Sunday's game with injuries, the Raiders are more concerned with running back Darren McFadden's availability than they are with quarterback Terrelle Pryor's. McFadden has a hamstring injury and a history as a slow healer. Pryor's knee injury is being described by the team as "day to day," and the Raiders said he wouldd have been coming out of the game at that point anyway.

Around the division: How many touchdown passes does a guy have to throw to get named the full-time starting quarterback? Apparently more than the seven Nick Foles threw Sunday against the Raiders. ... The trial of Sean Taylor's shooter is over, and as John Keim writes, it's the latest occasion to reflect on what might have been had Taylor's life and career not ended far too soon.

Around the league: Tim Keown's column on the Martin/Incognito affair knocks it out of the park, addressing a core issue that you're not going to hear players address in their locker-room interviews about this while the story remains in the headlines. There are, plain and simple, a large number of people in the NFL who see Martin as the one in the wrong here. And that's sad. No matter how rough-and-tough your line of work is, there's no excuse for abandoning basic human decency. We're not on this planet very long, folks. No one's final words are ever, "I wish I'd been more horrible to people."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants defensive back Prince Amukamara has been following the news out of Miami, where Jonathan Martin felt he had to leave the team and Richie Incognito has been suspended for his role in the apparent bullying and hazing of Martin.

Amukamara said Monday that, when he first heard the news, he immediately wondered how similar the case was to the hazing he famously endured last year when a video surfaced of him being dunked in a cold tub by teammate Jason Pierre-Paul.

"I was definitely trying to put myself in Jonathan's shoes and see if it was identical to my situation," Amukamara said.

[+] EnlargePrince Amukamara
Al Bello/Getty Images"As a rookie ... you know you're going to be given a hard time, but you know it's out of love. Everyone wants great chemistry on the team," Prince Amukamara said.
The answer he came up with was, "No."

"Last year, with what I went through, I'm still sticking to my story. That wasn't bullying at all," Amukamara said. "That was just fun in the locker room. I definitely do feel safe in my workplace. And if I didn't feel safe in my workplace, I would have definitely said something to other players or to my coaches."

The incident with Amukamara got attention last year because Giants punter Steve Weatherford posted it on the Internet. But while Amukamara admitted he didn't like being dunked in the cold tub, he said everything was fine between him and his teammates immediately afterward and that he never felt threatened or bullied.

He said rookies who are first-round picks are generally hazed by being asked to pick up large dinner checks. ("You know they're definitely going to hit you in your pocket," he said.) And 2013 first-round pick Justin Pugh said Monday that he'd been the victim of a hazing prank in which he was presented with a $10,000 dinner tab only to find out later that the real cost was $1,200, which he of course was expected to pay.

The cold-tub treatment, it turns out, is punishment for reacting the wrong way to the standard rookie treatment that young players are supposed to accept.

"In our locker room, it's simple -- do what we say and you won't get hazed," cornerback Terrell Thomas said. "If you don't, you'll get thrown in the cold tub or your shirt will get cut up. But that's about it. Prince was talking back that day, so he got thrown in the cold tub. If you don't listen as a rookie, your choices are very limited."

Amukamara, of course, wasn't a rookie last year. It has been suggested that, due to his injuries and his limited playing time as a rookie in 2011, he continued to get rookie treatment in 2012. But Amukamara is also a different sort of guy -- quiet and introspective amid a traditionally loud and boisterous NFL establishment. It's possible he's the kind of guy who tends to get teased more than others, and he thinks that could be the case.

"I would say it's probably lightened up a little bit, but they're still giving me crap," Amukamara said. "The only thing is, I definitely give it back. And because I know it's not one-sided and I know I can walk away at any time, I think that helps. That actually frustrates them a little bit more sometimes, I think. As long as they don't physically harm me, that's all right.

"As a rookie, you know all the stories, and you know you're going to be given a hard time, but you know it's out of love. Everyone wants great chemistry on the team, and that was my mindset."

Amukamara said he has an understanding of what constitutes bullying and that he would have made a complaint if he felt teammates' behavior had risen to that level. Following the Miami situation from afar, he sees things that go way beyond anything he endured.

"Anything that's racial or threats, that's the definition of bullying or harassment," he said.

Pugh said his own rookie experience has been pleasant, and that teammates such as Chris Snee and David Diehl have even helped him with some of the more exorbitant dinner checks. Thomas recalled missions he had to go on as a rookie.

"They had me bring hard brushes, soft brushes, medium brushes, all kinds of stuff, picking up dinners," Thomas said. "I think me and Kenny [Phillips], we split a $3,000 tab. But I remember going in a snowstorm to get breakfast sandwiches and then getting in trouble for not putting them in front of the lockers. But at the end of the day, you're a grown man. You've got to, at some point, say, 'That's enough.'"

Knowing where that line is would seem to be the tricky issue, though it seems extremely clear based on the reports of the voicemails he left Martin that Incognito crossed all kind of lines by quite a bit. Compared to that, anything that's gone on with the Giants feels like little more than fun and games.

"There is a lot of peer pressure involved, and there is a lot of competitiveness involved, and if it does go over the line here, we get involved," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We're all policing it. We have assistant coaches, players in leadership roles, and if for whatever reason I have to get involved and talk to someone about their behavior, yay or nay, that's what happens."

That did happen last year with the Amukamara incident, though the feeling around the Giants seems to be that it only did because the video was made public.

"If I had made a public outcry or something, that would have made it bullying," Amukamara said. "But right after I was in the tub, everything was OK. I think if it affected the way I was at work, or the way I interacted with the other players, that would have been different. But I never felt that way."

Big Blue Morning: Back to work

November, 4, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants

The news of the day: Coming off their bye week, Giants players will return to work Monday after seven days off and go through a late-morning practice. Andre Brown should be front and center in the running back mix, as he's eligible to come off of injured reserve and make his season debut Sunday against the Raiders. It remains to be seen how things will shake out with Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox once Brown is activated. And they will need to clear a roster spot. But as Adam Schefter reports this morning, starting running back David Wilson is going for an MRI this week on his injured neck. If it's determined that Wilson must miss the rest of the season, which is possible and may even be the wise course of action given the Giants' 2-6 record, then that's the roster spot. Anyway, Brown has been practicing for a couple of weeks now and is eager to get going.

Behind enemy lines: The Raiders sure didn't look like much Sunday, as they allowed an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes to Nick Foles and lost 49-20 to the Eagles one week after the Giants beat the Eagles 15-7. The Raiders also saw starting running back Darren McFadden and quarterback Terrelle Pryor leave that game with injuries. Add in the fact that the Raiders are flying cross-country for a 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, and you start to like the Giants' chances of a third win in a row. Of course, for the third game in a row, that opinion is based on the quality of the opponent, and not the way the Giants themselves have played.

Around the division: Rough week for those who insist on believing the 2-6 Giants can get back into the division race, as all three NFC East teams won. Apart from the Eagles' demolition of the Raiders, the first-place Cowboys squeaked out a final-seconds victory over the Minnesota Vikings to improve to 5-4 (including an important 3-0 record in division games). The Eagles sit a game behind them at 4-5. And the Redskins, who beat the Chargers in overtime, are 3-5. The Giants' best-case scenario for the next couple of weeks involves beating the Raiders on Sunday and the Packers at home a week later to improve to 4-6 in time for the Nov. 24 home game against the Cowboys, by which time the worst Dallas can be is 5-5, since they have a bye in Week 11. But there are also those other two teams in front of them, and again, that requires a four-game winning streak (and a victory over the Packers!) by a Giants team that continues to rank among the very worst in the NFL in a wide variety of categories. When considering the opportunity presented to the last-place Giants by the relative weakness of the rest of the division, you must also consider the Giants' ability to take advantage of it. They are not a good team.

Around the league: The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin case is going to continue to be a big story this week, as the issue of what's appropriate behavior in a football locker room and what isn't gets dissected. I guess one thing to note here is that, when it gets to the point where a key player (Martin, in this case) feels as though he can't be a part of the team, it has hurt the team, and has clearly gone too far. I have plenty of thoughts on the unnecessary-cruelty-to-fellow-human-beings aspect of it as well, but I kind of feel as though those should be obvious.